Those Who Can Not Smell: A Tale Of First Contact

This one time, two alien spaceships met each other in the void of space between star systems. Neither species had ever encountered a different species before, so it was a momentous event. The scientifically-minded crews of the two ships stopped and tried to communicate. Eventually, they worked out a coded system of light flashes through which they could relay messages. Their conversation went a little something like this:

Earks Scientists: Greetings strange vessel, we represent a people called the Earks. We are interested in sharing knowledge with you.

Other Ship: We accept your greetings and admit that the sharing of knowledge could benefit us.

Earks Scientists: We Earks come from a planet not far from here. We have two legs and a grasping arm. How does this compare to your form?

Other Ship: We have no sense of smell. This is our greatest failing, save for the constant guilt.

Earks Scientists: Apologies, strangers. Your last message did not make sense to us. You referred to a sense of smell, which we define as the inhalation of small particles and the brain registers information about the particles. Is this the sense to which you are referring, so is this a failure of this impromptu language we have constructed?

Other Ship: Yes, that is the sense to which we refer. We do not have that.

Earks Scientists: Understood. But if you do not have the sense, why do you bring it up?

Other Ship: Lacking that sense is our greatest failing, save for the constant guilt.

Earks Scientists: We still do not understand your meaning. If you do not have the sense, why do you realize that you lack it? We, for example, have no sense that allows us to taste light, but our lack of that sense does not define us. We have never considered the idea of light-tasting until now. Does your world perhaps have many species that smell and you are unique there in your lack of that sense?

Other Ship: We have that sense.

Earks Scientists: You can smell?

Other Ship: No. We have no sense of smell. This is our greatest failing, save for the constant guilt. We have the sense of light-tasting.

Earks Scientists: You do?

Other Ship: We do. It is valued by us.

Earks Scientists: This is interesting information, though we still have no idea of your physical form.

Other Ship: Our physical form is boring to us. It is like wind that knows it is blowing but can’t stop.

Earks Scientists: That is an interesting analogy, strangers. We detect you do not wish to speak about your physical form. Perhaps we shall speak of our societies. Our worlds are governed by divinely chosen rulers. The ruler of our realm has sent us into deep space to learn things that may benefit our world. How is your society structured?

Other Ship: Light tastes different when filtered through translucent screens. We build many translucent screens by accident.

Earks Scientists: Are these screens important to your society? How is it that you come to create them accidentally?

Other Ship: Accidents happen.

Earks Scientists: That is true. What is it that you are trying to accomplish while you accidentally create the screens?

Other Ship: We do what we must.

Earks Scientists: We don’t understand but will not press further on this for now. What is the source of the constant guilt you have mentioned several times?

Other Ship: Your questioning has become rude. We are now leaving, unsatisfied.

And with that, the strangers’ ship engaged its rockets and left the scene of the meeting, ignoring the Earks’ apologies and entreaties to remain and work out their differences. The two species have never since encountered each other again. And the Earks back home barely even believed their scientists when they said it happened.

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